BATMAN, INCORPORATED #9
Author: Bobby Barrett
March 29, 2013

SYNOPSIS: The fallout from last month’s shocking turn of events has Batman on the run! Is The Dark Knight a murderer?

The Batman comics have spent the last month mourning the loss of Damian Wayne, but the true aftermath to this tragedy comes front and center in the latest issue of Batman, Inc. The aftermath of Damian's fight with the Heretic is detailed in full, with Talia's creation making his true intentions known. The Bat Family finally manages to combine their efforts and escape the besieged Wayne Tower, returning to Wayne Manor. Once there, wounds are tended and Damian is laid to rest. Bruce Wayne gives a truly heartfelt memoriam, as Alfred Pennyworth, Dick Grayson and Tim Drake stand by. One would be mistaken to think that Alfred's part in Damian leaving The Batcave that last time would go unspoken, a moment between he and Bruce addresses this and leaves questions regarding the future of the pair.

England mourns the loss off Cyril Sheldrake (alias The Knight), while Squire and Dark Ranger prepare to take vengeance. Wingman (AKA Jason Todd) is revealed to be in a perilous situation himself, trapped and face to face with the woman he owes his (second) life to.

Meanwhile, in Gotham City, the Mayor reads a statement from the Leviathan organization at a press conference, with Commissioner Gordon standing by. Leviathan have revealed themselves to the world as a direct reaction to Batman Incorporated, which they deem in violation of the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, calling The Dark Knight's global team out as "proactive capitalist imperialism" sold as "international superhero adventure". The Mayor makes his declaration regarding Batman's presence in the city, much to Gordon's disgust, and seeds are planted that will shortly lead us to the ominous "flash forward" opening scene from this volume's issue #1.


BATMAN, INC. #9 Cover

What makes this issue work so well is its structure. Grant Morrison is well known for his non-linear stories, which have no doubt caused many a migraine, but serve this issue perfectly. The mourning sequences are continually cut between glimpses of the Bat Team's fight with The Heretic and subsequent escape, which allow Morrison to get deeper emotionally than is typical for him without sacrificing the breathtaking pace his story has kept. The pages move flawlessly between heartbreak and heroics, making for an exciting read throughout.

What I especially appreciate is how Morrison handle's Bruce's reaction to his son's passing – he is undeniably shaken to the core, but not to the point of shutting out everyone closest to him and crushing skulls needlessly. Morrison has made it clear throughout his run that he is doing away with the 1990's "borderline psycho" Bruce Wayne, and those adverse reactions would have been more than expected during that time period. However, by not relying on the other Bat Books to handle all of the emotional fallout from this (which he more or less did after "Batman R.I.P."), the scribe has delivered an irreplaceable piece to the overall portrait of Bruce Wayne that has been his 6-year journey with the character. Of particular note is Bruce's conversation with Alfred, which could have easily gone over-the-top, but instead packs just the right amount of sting – and manages to bring a scene from THE DARK KNIGHT RISES to mind.

Chris Burnham's art continues to grow, and this issue's pencil's hit every beat right on the nose. The aftermath scenes are haunting, the action scenes are truly gritty, even the bruises on Bruce's hands seem lifelike. Once again, Jason Masters fills in as artist for a handful of pages, only this time this occurs as the scene changes, making the switch far more smooth than in the previous issue. The colors are spot on as well, the solemn scenes using dark and drab coloring, while the action is highlighted with a bright, vibrant palette that evokes movement.

Overall, issue #9 goes to prove without doubt that Damian Wayne's demise was but the beginning of the end for Grant Morrison's Batman. The final act is upon us. Be ready. - Bobby Barrett

GRADE: A

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